The Walking Dead, S4 Ep. 5: I Am the Warrior

Sooooo.  The Walking Dead, Season 4, Episode 5.  “Internment”, they called it.

Oh, right, before I so one step further…

SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!

There.  That should clear up any confusion.

So, The Walking Dead.  Thankfully, this seems to be the end of the megaflu story arc, which is fine with me because I’ve had quite enough of people with bleeding eyeballs.

Bad things are in store for poor Dr. Caleb.

Bad things are in store for poor Dr. Caleb.

Zombies are one thing, but hemorrhagic fevers?  Ewwww.  Quite another.

Anyhoo.

Here’s what we’ve got: One-legged country veterinarian and closest-thing-to-a-doctor-on-site (see: poor Dr. Caleb), Hershel, has voluntarily locked himself in quarantine with the infected survivors in the prison, to try and administer some sort of medical hoodoo.  Carl, Rick’s 14-year-old son, has had a little bit of a romantic past with his gun, though he’s becomes almost freakishly competent (if a little militaristic, she said in a mastery of understatement).  He’s in a separate building, in charge of the vulnerable population (the elderly, small children) but is rarin’ to go in the fight to defend their claustrophobic, PTSD-inducing way of life.  And zombies are massing at the outside fence.

More or less.

The warrior core–Daryl, Tyreese, and Michonne–are out on a supply run (and Glenn is laid up with the flu; Glenn, if you remember, officially became a badass last season, when he broke free from the chair he was bound to and used a chunk of said broken chair to kill the zombie that was locked in the room with him).  Thus, the defense of the prison is left to the kinder, gentler, gentleman-farmer incarnation of Rick, his teenage son Carl, and Maggie, who’s got a lot of fight and isn’t afraid of hard work and a little zombie slaughter but doesn’t usually occupy the front lines.

Oh! And Hershel, an amputee in his…mid-60s?…who can walk thanks to a prosthetic leg they made for him out of spare prison parts.  Don’t ask me what his leg is made of I DON’T KNOW.  I just know he gets around pretty good for something welded out of old cafeteria tables.  Hershel is the constant voice of humanity, the reminder that we need to remember we’re humans and not devolve into winner-take-all, soulless greedmongers, as opposed to this.

AliBabaBunny

It’s MINE! All MINE! I’m rich, I’m a happy miser.
Image from lusipurr.com

Kind of like zombies, but with pulses.

Before I go a step further, I’d like to point out that the primary definition of the word “internment“–in any dictionary–generally means imprisoning a bunch of enemy combatants and/or perceived threats.  It does also simply refer to the state of being confined, but its intial definition has an overt military aura.  When the US rounded up Japanese-Americans after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, they didn’t say they were putting them in safe houses to protect them from unreasonable mobs.  They went into internment camps.  This word underscores the notion that these people at the VERY LEAST are going to have some severe PTSD, that their group operates militarily (even if they don’t want to admit it) and subsequently the kids are growing up to be child soldiers, which is horrifying in its own right, with or without the zombies.

There were a few themes in this week’s The Walking Dead that stood out.  Parents, in this episode, kept trying to protect their kids, and it kept not working.  Hershel doesn’t want Maggie to enter the quarantine building.  Rick doesn’t want Carl to leave the safe zone with the kids.  And this guy didn’t want Hershel to know just how badly his kid was doing in fighting the flu…

Though on second thought, maybe this guy should've told Hershel his kid was on the road to Zombietown.

Though on second thought, maybe this guy should’ve told Hershel his kid was well on his way to Zombietown.

Hindsight.  C’est la vie.

Carl summed up the futility of the (nevertheless completely understandable) parental attempt to protect their kids in the crazy world they live in.  “You can’t  keep me from it,” Carl says to his father and, when his father asked from what?  “From what always happens.”  The shit, he’s saying, will eventually hit the fan and I’ll be in the middle of it, fighting for my life or running, no matter what you do.  So I should be a part of it.

And he is.  They all are.  It’s not long before Rick asks Carl to help him shore up the outer fencing, which has been tremendously weakened by constant external pressure from thronging, pushing zombies.  The braces break, the outer wall is breached, zombies flood the inner walk, and Rick and Carl run for the heavy artillery–machine guns and lots and lots of rounds of ammo–to take down the enormous herd of walkers looking at a Rick & Carl lunch.

Not quite the bonding time one might hope for, but in a zombie apocalypse, you take what you get.

Not quite the bonding time one might hope for, but in a zombie apocalypse, you take what you get.

OK, a Rick & Carl dinner.  Because it’s night, see?

But that brings us to our second theme: everyone’s a warrior, no matter what you might think.  Carl saved his dad’s bacon.  Maggie shot her way in to the internment site because she knew trouble was going down and wanted in.  (In fact, Maggie may be the perfect soldier; she was told to stay out by her father–from one perspective he could be considered her commanding officer.  When gunshots were heard coming from the hospital she initially did not go in to help them and balked at the idea of leaving her job on the fence even though her father and sick husband were in the middle of some gunplay, until she received permission from Rick, who at that point was the officer on duty.)

Rick and Carl did manage to have a quiet bonding moment, eating beans instead of telling Daryl that Carol was banished.  Because who wouldn’t want to put that off?

Here, son.  Have a bean.

Here, son. Have a bean.

But you know, you can’t keep him from it.  Oh, snap!  Did I just quote Carl?

And Hershel.  Sweet, gentle Hershel.  Played by actor Scott Wilson, this episode was Wilson’s shining moment to date.  He was fantastic, almost as cinematically impressive as Agnes Moorehead’s one-woman tour de force The Twilight Zone episode “The Invaders” (for those unfamiliar with this episode, watch it here and learn).  I only give her slightly more cred because she was essentially the only actress for a half-hour show.  But.

Hershel’s running around, saving people, dragging them back to their cells to rest.  He had his first zombie kill (I’m trying to remember…this can’t be his first-first, can it?  or is it just his first in the claustrophobic hospital setting?), which was a solemn moment; he even tried to keep it dignified by pulling a sheet over the zombified’s head.

I understand that the first one is the hardest.

I understand that the first one is the hardest.

But it didn’t take long for him to start breaking zombie arms.

Because he wanted...no, NEEDED...that gun.

Because he wanted…no, NEEDED…that gun.

Stabbing zombies in the face.

Poor, poor Dr. Caleb.

Poor, poor Dr. Caleb.

And throwing them over stair railings.

YOU WANT A PIECE OF ME?

YOU WANT A PIECE OF ME?

Go, Hershel!  Fighting the flu, fighting zombies, intubating the sick with his left hand and stabbing zombies in the head with his right.  I love this guy.

So.  Even the most unexpected person can be called upon to fight in the post-apocalyptic world.  Which is good to know, because next week sees the return of The Governor and the crazy’s about to ratchet up a notch or two.

Totally taken from the good people of weheartit.com

So that’s the third theme in this episode: How do you hang onto hope and hold off the crazy?  Rick and his bean eating, and Hershel and his (usually) gentle philosophy, are the bastions that maintain what we think of as civilization.  Hershel’s running around quoting Steinbeck: A sad soul can kill quicker than a gun.  Smiles, everyone.  Smiles.  How do you stay buoyant?  Somehow through the crazy, when you’re facing someone whose dead son comes running up to eat and kill him, when you’ve got to stab the shell of a former friend in the face to survive…how can your heart stay open?

Look, someone got me a birthday cake with a picture of my six-year-old self on it.  And I had a hard time stabbing a rice paper representation in the head.  So, if it’s me vs. my BFF and one of us is dinner if the other doesn’t get a poke in the brain…If that doesn’t make you a little nuts, I don’t know what would.

And speaking of crazy…

How about our little Lizzie in this episode?  Calling the zombie like it’s a dog?  “Here boy!  Here, come on, good boy.”

Who's a hungry zombie?

Who’s a hungry zombie?  Yes you are.  Yes you are.

Side note: I wonder what book she’s reading.  Anyone?

It seems stupidly brave but also adult and manipulative.  Lizzie knows how to draw the zombies off.  Not only do I think she’s the one feeding them, I think the Governor taught her how to do it and she’s spying for him.

And what was UP with Lizzie playing toesies in the blood and sputum that Glenn horked out of his lungs when he was about to die from the flu?

Girlfriend has issues. That's all I'm saying.

Girlfriend needs a hobby. That’s all I’m saying.

That’s it for this week!  I’ll leave you on a happy note: please enjoy Bugs Bunny in “Ali Baba Bunny”.  I felt like I had to include it since I posted a still earlier.

Five-Second Wrap-Up: This Week’s The Walking Dead

So I read some of the feedback about this week’s The Walking Dead (S3, Ep 12) and, you know, I’m pretty much down with most of what I’ve read.  Yes, it was a powerful, strangely beautiful episode.  Yes, I was glad to see the beleaguered, now-batshit crazy Morgan resurface from Season One, and Lennie James turned in an amazing performance as Morgan and created a memorable return.  Yes, it was nice to see Carl as a caring, sentimental brother and not just a child soldier in the zombie wars.  And yes, it was nice to hear Michonne finally say something other than to growl out, “The Governor’s a scumbag, I can’t believe Andrea didn’t see it, he’s going to try and kill us, be ready.”

But here’s the thing: you remember the scene in the cafe, where Carl goes to get the picture of him and his parents so he can give it to baby sister Judith?

Awww, bonding time + looted tchotchkes.

Awww, bonding time + looted tchotchkes.
Photo from facebook.com/thewalkingdead

And then they get chased out the door by zombies and Carl (or maybe it was Michonne) drops the photograph and he wants to go back in and get it?  And then Michonne leaves Carl at the door, telling him that she’ll go back in and get it for him?  And he stands on the front step (which is perhaps the first time in all of The Walking Dead history that Carl goes where he’s told) while the zombies swarm around the door?  Then Michonne gets all superhero stealthy and rearranges her molecules or something so she can slip in the side door unobserved and grab the picture (and, apparently, a papier-mache cat), so now Carl’s little sister can eventually see what her parents were like in happier days?  Everyone’s like, sigh, that Michonne, she showed her softer side.

OK, maybe.  I’ll grant you, she didn’t have to go get the picture, she could have been all “every man for himself” and let Carl fight his way in (and he was getting that goddamned picture so there was no way around someone going in), though he’s pretty noisy and only knows how to fight with a gun.  The gun going off could have drawn more trouble towards them and who knows how crazy Morgan is and if that would have set him off and if nothing else, it would have been a waste of ammo.  Which they just looted from Morgan because she and everyone else KNOWS there’s going to be a major gunfight going down soon.  Michonne and her kitana were a much more practical choice for photographic retrieval.  Still, on the surface her going in seems protective and maternal and kind and family-oriented.  But.  I just want you to bear this in mind.  When she went in the cafe?  She needed to find the way to make the most productive use of what are clearly expert-level sneaky skills.  She left Carl positioned right in front of the glass.  The zombies were drawn to him because they are zombies and wanted to eat him.

So I call bullshit on any ideas that she was getting all maternal and gentle.  She went in because she has a quieter and less wasteful weapon, and in order to have a successful run she used that little boy as fucking bait.  I love her for it and I hope you do too, but don’t ever forget she’s a calculating and resourceful fighter at heart.

That is all.

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